How good are your listening skills?

By Alison Smith

A couple of weeks ago I joined  the Hornsey Community Choir. I do sing and like to sing, but other than some theory / practical training whilst learning the flute, I have never had any formal training. Apart from feeling a bit nervous to get right what was being asked of me, I soon learned it’s not enough for you to hear and repeat, you really have to listen – not only to the music, but to others in the choir. All the different parts have to combine together to make the whole song and harmonies work. 

This got me thinking about how many of us attend meetings/briefings, or in general day to day conversations hear what others are saying, but do not listen to the point they are trying to get across. This also made me think back to the blog a few days ago by Ron Rosenhead, which highlighted the issues seen when Sponsors of projects sign them off, but don’t really understand what they are committing to.

I am sure that we have all been in meetings where someone has something to say and simply goes on and on – so you switch off. Is this a common issue in your meetings? If so there may be some real dangers in not listening to what people are saying.

  • Are you going to miss a key risk in your project because you are not really listening?
  • Are you the person who doesn’t speak up, but has a keen insight into what would be better based on your previous experiences?
  • Are you the person who has a clear personal idea of what is right, so will not take on board others opinions or ideas?
  • Are you the person who when the project hits a bump says “But you never told me this could happen. Why didn’t you highlight this risk?”

These are just some examples of what could result in not listening carefully to what your colleagues in your projects are telling you, but what can you do to be more actively listening and taking action?

How about asking questions ? “Can I just confirm that you are saying this is an issue?” “How will this affect the project?” It helps to clarify the thinking of the group and avoid some of the foreseeable pitfalls. It also engages all of the team, allowing them to speak up, give their experiences, and also it is an opportunity to brainstorm and find new solutions.

One thing to consider is meetings training. Yes, you can be trained to run effective meetings. Meetings that drone on are not usually productive, and can stifle creativity to resolve issues. It will also help you to focus on key tasks in a timely way that aids full concentration on the issues at hand, and avoids attendee switch off.

I hope that you will think about your listening skills, contributions to the whole team – or lack of due to switching off, and also some of the risks of not listening.

So, I ask you how good are your listening skills?

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One Response to How good are your listening skills?

  1. Pingback: How good are your listening skills? | #PMChat

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